Merril Jessop now has two new wives. That means living arrangements have to be rearranged, but you know that’s not something Merril ever thought about.
CN: Mental illness, ableism, domestic violence, abuse and neglect.
Tammy has to personally turf one of his daughters out of a bedroom so that she has a room in the same house as her unlawfully-wedded husband. Cathleen, the gentle-natured one, is installed in the younger boys’ room, forcing them to squeeze in with other brothers. Lest you think Merril gave her a room because he actually likes her, note that he immediately skedaddles with his favorite wife, Barbara, leaving Cathleen to care for 28 children pretty much by herself. Ruth and Faunita are too consumed by psychosis and depression to help, Carolyn’s at college, and Tammy could give two shits about other people’s children.
So yeah, Merril married Cathleen for political power, and then moved her in because he needed a nanny. Proper Prince Charming, ain’t he just.
And when she finally confronts Merril about it, he tells her to learn how to do stuff from his elder daughters (who are completely MIA) and that she needs to take a nap.
Husband of the fucking Year material right here, yo.
Meanwhile, Tammy’s only concern is how she can get moved into the house and persuade her new hubby to fuck her rather than fuck her over. Yep. He married her, but he still hasn’t slept with her.
When Merril gets home from his post-wedding business trip, he chooses to deal with Ruth’s psychotic behavior by ignoring it. Cathleen about loses her shit, because the man of the family is falling down on his job:
In the FLDS culture, people believe that the mentally ill have invited evil spirits into themselves. Cathleen could not fathom why Merril would allow a wife who’d been taken over by an evil spirit to be running around his home and scaring his children with her bizarre behavior.
Such a healthy attitude towards mental illness. *fatal eyeroll*
Ruth, tired of being ignored, announces she’s pregnant with Jesus Christ’s baby, and Cathleen nopes the hell outta there. She’ll have to get used to blasphemy, though, because Ruth regularly thinks she’s been knocked up by Jesus, Joseph Smith, or God himself. That poor woman needs understanding mental health professionals, good psychiatric meds, and a calm place to recover. The best she gets is Carolyn giving her peppermint tea when she gets home from college.
Carolyn tries to talk to Merril about it, and gets dismissed with a pet name. We learn he sometimes slips and calls her by one of his daughters’ names. Keep in mind, Carolyn is one of the few wives he actually does fuck regularly. I cannot express how squicked out I am by this jackass.
Cathleen pours out her woes to Carolyn. She’s fallen fast and hard: as the Prophet’s wife, she’d been given royal treatment. As Merril’s wife, she’s worse off than Cinderella.
The family is filled with disharmony. The older daughters are realizing that even two shiny new wives can’t break Barbara’s tyrannical hold over the household, so they’ve gotten crowded into fewer rooms for nothing. And Tammy finds out that Merril hasn’t been sleeping with anyone except Barbara and Carolyn, and is livid. When she confronts Merril, Barbara’s response is galling. She tells Merril he should drive her and Tammy around to look at work projects, because “Maybe Tammy would be interested in learning about her husband instead of you listening to how she feels.” Gods forbid that man have to listen to a mere woman talk about how awful his shitty treatment makes her feel. We can’t expect the menfolk to put up with that kind of nonsense, y’all.
Later, Barbara announces to Ruth that she’s to get a vitamin B12 shot so she’ll stop this being seriously mentally ill nonsense. In the midst of a condescending lecture, Ruth starts strangling her to make it stop, and while I can’t in good conscience cheer her on, I completely understand the urge (and also have to be somewhere else right now, my goodness, look at the time, shame I didn’t witness anything, Officer). I think she’d have an excellent basis for an excusable homicide* defense.
Carolyn fetches Merril, but by the time he gets downstairs, Ruth has abandoned the assault on her sister/wife and gone off to have a good cry. Merril goes and screams at her. This is how he asserts his authority as a man. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what sort of man that makes him.
And so, the chapter ends on an ominous note, with Merril still neglecting his new wives.
Just you wait til the honeymoon…
*I dimly remember from my Criminal Law and Procedure course in college that Arizona doesn’t call it “justifiable homicide.” It’s excusable. Which always made me think of someone coming into court with a note from their Mom saying to please excuse them for murdering so-and-so.